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The Blues and the Human Voice
interlarded with occasional recourse to the English language, had a fantasy-like, stream-of-consciousness quality that made him a sort of James Joyce of jazz. A similar style was attempted a few years ago by Joe Carroll with the Gillespie band. There have also been bop vocals by Betty Roch6 with Ellington and by numerous others, mostly on a musically insignificant level.
The use of the voice as an instrument is discussed in a later CHAPTER with reference to Ellington. A new approach to this technique was undertaken first by King Pleasure and later, with greater musical accuracy, by Annie Ross, both of whom took instrumental solos that had been improvised and recorded (by such jazzmen as James Moody and Wardell Gray) and wrote lyrics to match every note of the improvisation. The result, in Miss Ross' case at least (her best efforts were Twisted and Farmers Market) was a jazz vocal that combined wit and in­genuity with the spirit of improvisation. Unfortunately very few performers are equipped with the lyric-writing ability and gym­nastic vocal resources essential to this technique; consequently the idea has remained dormant.
Some of the most vital qualities of jazz singing, and much of the stirring vocal work in recent decades, may be found just be­yond the borders of jazz: in the gospel singers discussed earlier (in addition to several LPs featuring Mahalia Jackson I can recommend for reference a number of impressive records by Reverend Kelsey, Brother Joe May, Juanita Jackson, Ernestine Washington and others). Stepping beyond the church doors, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight have brought un­adulterated versions of this material into the concert hall and the night club.
Another form of music blessed with the presence of some mag­nificent blues-inflected voices is rhythm and blues, in which some artists have avoided the descent into the manic inanities of rock and roll. Those who have worked successfully to audiences seeking this kind of singing include Joe Turner, Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, Lavern Baker, and a remarkable singing guitarist, Bo Diddley. Unfortunately the rock and roll vocal field today is a three-ring circus in which it is essential to concentrate one's eyes and ears on a single ring. The other two arenas accommo-